"I only understood a little, but things were not going well." —Max Payne
The first weird thing that happened to me in South Korea was when I was doing a favorite thing: sitting in my boxers, eating pistachios. I was in front of my computer talking to a friend from home when someone knocked on my door. This was unusual. I’d only just moved to Korea to teach English and no one knew where I lived and no one had any reason to visit. Reasons for others to intrude into your life accumulate without your awareness all the time, and in strolled five police officers clad in black track [...]
When my friends started having children, as much as I thought about what role I'd play in their kids' lives, it was as the sort of friend of the family who, when you're teetering through teenagerdom and your early 20s, takes you out to lunch or dinner (often arriving, fortuitously, when you're most off course and down-at-heel), gives you Rilke and Asimov and the Brontes at the junctures when they can do their most good, takes your ambitions seriously, lets you be yourself while providing some calibrating sense of what the world at large will eventually expect from your conversation, etc. I had a couple such 'aunts' myself, my mom's [...]
"People talk about dumbing-down, but there’s a parallel process which is a numbing-down. When a poet is asking you to commune with him or her for this period of time—it gives people the creeps, now. That’s why people are always talking on their phones, or looking at their phones, it’s because they don’t want to be alone with their thoughts." —Even people who absolutely hate Martin Amis will find something with which to engage in this interview, probably because it's about 700,000 words long. (I like it a lot!)
Christopher Hitchens, along with Robert Hughes and Spy magazine's Michèle Bennett, first started me imagining that I would like someday to be a journalist and critic. These jaundiced observers of the follies of the late 1980s and early 1990s had in common an elegant style of attack, and a positive relish in the peppering, roasting, carving and dishing up of sacred cows. Hughes, by far the most scholarly of the three, went on to produce magnificent books and documentaries (and to survive the terrible injuries he sustained in a super-hairy car crash in 1999); Bennett's true identity has never been revealed, but I hope he or she is thriving, and [...]
Hey, you guys, anyone know where the hip stuff in Brooklyn goes down? You know, stuff with some edge, with that authentic Kings County feel to it. Like, I hear there's a flea market? And all the bars serve bacon cocktails? Something something pickling? Where's all that action at? Oh, no, it's not for me: It's Marty Amis wants to know.